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TV Series Review

In Greek mythology, a girl named Pandora unwisely opens a box near the beginning of time and inadvertently unleashes all the world’s troubles and ills.

As such, The CW has named this show well. Open it up, and you’re bound to suffer. Mightily.

A Space Oddity

Let’s start with the series' titular character—even though the character is actually named Jax, or perhaps Joan. (I’m assuming Joan’s her given name, and Jax—written in all caps in the CW’s official marketing flotsam—is her nickname, but we’ve got more serious problems to deal with, so let’s move on.)

Jax/JAX/Joan/Pandora is an orphan. Her whole family was killed in a mysterious attack on their home colony of New Portland while Jax was out jogging one day (proving that exercising really can prolong your life), and she’s naturally still suffering emotionally in the aftermath of that tragedy. Jax has since been shuffled off to her aloof, mysterious uncle Donovan Osborne; he teaches at Earth’s Space Training Academy, where Jax has just enrolled. She’s majoring in, um, space training, I guess.

Jax makes friends quickly there, despite her habit of glowering at everyone as a form of greeting. Her best friend is a purple-haired clone named Atria Nine (whom, we learn, enrolled in the Academy shortly after murdering her master). Everyone else in Jax's relational circle—from the doctor-in-training, Greg Li; to the David Bowie-like alien, Ralen; to the teacher’s assistant-slash-undercover cop, Xander Duvall; to, perhaps, Atria’s own telepathic boyfriend, Tom—seems to be perhaps a future love interest for Jax. But why stop there? The pilot episode strongly hints that Jax is bisexual, so a relationship with Atria herself is not out of the question.

But perhaps it’s not fair to call Jax bisexual given that she is not even human. (Would that make her bi-speciel?) Seems she shares many DNA characteristics with the alien species that may or may not have attacked New Portland. And Jax may or may not be the unknowing conduit through which Earth might or might not discover what this strange extraterrestrial race has planned for Earth and its confederation of planets. If these aliens have plans, that is.

Personally, I hope they do. Because it’d be nice to think that someone involved with this show might know what they are doing.

Close Encounters of the Worst Kind

Jax and her friends hang out at a trendy bar called The Black Hole. About 15 minutes into the pilot episode, though, I was hoping a real one would appear—a black hole, not a bar—thus sucking this entire show into the mercifully quiet vacuum of interdimensional space.

What I'm saying is that Pandora is bad. The best I can say in this review is that in terms of problematic content, at least, it’s perhaps not quite as bad as it could be.

CW is gearing Pandora toward a tween-'n'-teen audience, which means that it does its best to titillate young fans without outright shocking their parents. The violence and action we see here are pretty bloodless: When shot by laser blasters, humans slump to the ground as if they were in a 1950s Western. Aliens do our species one better, literally disappearing into dust. Bad language, while present, doesn’t seem to be pervasive.

Sexual content seems to be another matter. Even this early in the show’s run, it’s pretty obvious that the sci-fi mystery in play here is really just a backdrop for a variety of romances and steamy encounters. Characters wear a variety of flattering and often revealing outfits—and sometimes, the show suggests that characters are wearing nothing at all. (The pilot offers a particularly gratuitous shower scene, where we spy Jax’s body in a revealing, but not technically fleshy, silhouette.)

In Greek mythology, Pandora released something else with all those troubles: hope. And that hope allows humanity to deal with all the gunk that the girl released into the world.

CW’s Pandora is young yet, so perhaps we too might hold out hope that it might get better. But that’s a small hope indeed.

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Episode Reviews

July 16, 2019: "Shelter From the Storm"



Readability Age Range



Priscilla Quintana as Jax; Raechelle Banno as Atria Nine; Martin Bobb-Semple as Thomas James Ross; Noah Huntley as Donovan Osborn; Tehmina Sunny as Regan; Oliver Dench as Xander Duvall; Ben Radcliffe as Ralen; Vikash Bhai as Martin Shral; Tommie Earl Jenkins as Ellison Pevney






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Paul Asay

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